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Friday September 30th, 2022

Best Workplaces for Women in Sri Lanka 2022

Are we maximizing the full potential of women in the workforce or allowing them to lose ground in the workplace?

Women are too crucial of a demographic to overlook in workplaces. Yet a multitude of studies from across the globe shows that organizations continue to have ongoing challenges in retaining female talent. These studies indicate that women believe they are paid less than their male counterparts for doing the same job. They believe it’s easier for men to get top strategic leadership positions than it is for women. Further, they presume that having children makes it harder for them to advance in their careers.

The Great Place to Work® Study of female employees in Sri Lanka was conducted for the third consecutive year to select the Best WorkplacesTM for Women. It draws attention to factors that most females found significant enough to either facilitate or frustrate their work experiences.

As the competition for talent continues to intensify, workplaces that create an inclusive culture witness greater levels of employee motivation, productivity, and retention. These workplaces continue to attract the next generation of female leaders and make the biggest gains. This article draws insight from the 15 organizations selected as the Best WorkplacesTM for women in Sri Lanka who are leading the way in creating a better, more equitable workplace culture that works for everyone. Women who work for these workplaces report far higher levels of trust, engagement, and career satisfaction as they have more positive experiences with their employers.

Women deserve economic prosperity at work without any bias or limitations. ‘Economic prosperity’ means opportunities that include fair wages, organizational standards that support and develop them, access to comprehensive reproductive health care and secure terms and working conditions.

The Great Place to Work® assessment included a framework designed around key drivers and differentiators required to create a workplace where women professionals can grow and thrive.

HOW THE 15 BEST WORKPLACES FOR WOMEN WERE SELECTED

The Great Place to Work® model used to assess Best WorkplacesTM was based on two lenses. Firstly, the Trust Index© employee perception survey was conducted to understand the employee workplace experience as a Great Place to Work For AllTM. Employees responded to 58 survey questions describing the extent to which employees Trust the people they work for, have Pride in the work they do and share Camaraderie among the people they work with. A 95% confidence level with a 5% margin of error or better in survey results was maintained. Demographic information such as gender was captured through the survey to obtain perceptions of women. A robust approach for maintaining individual anonymity was followed so that participants had the opportunity to provide candid feedback. Results for each of the listed organizations were audited to maintain the accuracy and validity of an organization’s inclusion in the Best Workplaces List.

Secondly, the people practices put in place by the organization to drive and sustain the employee experience over the long term were evaluated through a central submission termed the Culture Audit©.

The assessment was a rigorous methodology, which has been researched, tested and carried out in similar studies around the world.

In addition, considering the challenges women face due to their intensive contribution within the nuclear as well as an extended family unit, priority was given to selected areas – SHE ROCKS. This is the same framework carried out in India.

A framework to create great workplaces for women:

  • Supporting through the creation of women-friendly policies
  • Hiring for diversity and special programs for returning women
  • Equal pay and promotions
  • Rejoice and Celebrate successes
  • Orientation on Unconscious Bias
  • Continuously Inspire
  • Knowledge & Growth Opportunities
  • Stress-free workplace environment

Participating organizations were assessed to understand how they support, enable and empower women in their workforce to positive workplace experience. The assessment involved studying the employee experience of these organizations through the survey and the people practices they have, that help them deliver the desired experience to their female employees.

The following criteria were considered through the survey:

  • Organizations with at least 20 Women representing 10% or more of the workforce.
  • Organizations and the Women demographic both meet the minimum qualifying criteria of 70% positive perception or more through the Trust Index© survey
  • Representation of women in the organization and hierarchy
  • Perception of women in comparison to men in the organization
  • Organizations in which Women were more positive in areas that Great Place to Work® research has found to have strong appeal to Women such as work-life balance, non-discrimination by gender, fair performance management, fair access to opportunities for recognition, training, and collaboration

The following areas, their key success measures and their impact were considered through a separate submission focussing on practices for supporting women in the workplace:

  1. Initiatives that are aimed at identifying and catering to the special needs of women employees (Example: – nursing, childcare, work-life balance, safety, insurance etc.)
  2. Hiring practices focused on improving gender diversity and gender sensitivity policies
  3. Programs that facilitate education, professional development, mentoring and career progression of women employees
  4. Practices aimed at retaining women employees (Example: – maternity/paternity leave, telecommuting, sabbaticals, unpaid career breaks etc)
  5. How women can utilize the grievance redressal process to raise concerns, and what measures are in place to act out (Example:- actions/steps taken in the past, code of conduct, awareness sessions around diversity & respect)
  6. Fair compensation processes (Example: – equal pay audits)

Overall 55 % of weightage was given to the experience of women employees and 45 % of weightage is given to the people practices specific to women employees in the organization.

STUDY OVERVIEW

The study was conducted by assessing 72,950 employees at an 85% response rate across 158 organizations in Sri Lanka from August 2021 to July 2022. Over 19,000 Women (31% of respondents) responded to the anonymous survey. The results of this study were used in selecting the 15 Best WorkplacesTM for Women in Sri Lanka for 2022.

THE BIG PICTURE

Figure 1: The big picture from the trust index© survey

 

The average positive perception (Trust Index©) of women among the 15 Best WorkplacesTM is 89%, an increase of 4 percentage points from 2021, marginally higher than the average perception of the 50 Best WorkplacesTM in Sri Lanka 2022 and 13 percentage points higher than the average of women among the rest of the organizations in the study.

The 15 Best Workplaces were from across 9 industries; There was a representation of 20% each from the Manufacturing & Production, IT & ITES, and Professional Services industries.

KEY FOCUS AREAS

Comparing the key focus areas of employee experience, it is seen that among the 15 Best Workplaces all employees have a similar experience, with women having a marginally higher perception of the workplace. Adversely, on average among the rest, women have a lower perception, especially around fairness.

Figure 2: Key focus areas of the trust index© survey

 

MEN VS. WOMEN

There is a continuous disconnect between men and women in the workforce. What women want to improve in their workplace can be quite different from a male perspective. While the world may think that there is greater workplace equality between the genders than there was a couple of decades ago, most still believe that more change can be made.

Therefore, it is imperative for organizations to gain insight on what each gender is seeking to build engagement and boost productivity in the workplace.

Figure 3 depicts some common areas of workplace culture which continue to pose the biggest gaps in perception between men and women.

Females among the Rest of the organizations lack the belief that they make a difference to the organization in comparison to males who scored higher in this aspect. Further, women among the Rest feel a gap in the belief that there is a fair opportunity in being recognized in comparison to their male counterparts.

Figure 3: Biggest gap: Perception between men and women in the study

 

BEST VS. THE REST

Females at work are insisting on fairness. Acts of integrity without bias and keeping actions and practices transparent are paramount to sustaining fairness. Females at work are insisting on fairness. Acts of integrity without bias and keeping actions and practices transparent are paramount to sustaining fairness.

The results emerging among the 15 Best Workplaces show a more positive picture than that of the rest. The females in these organizations scored on par and even better in some key focus areas compared to men as shown in figure 3 and highlighted in figure 4.

Among factors measured in the study, measurements of fairness and equity revealed the biggest gap between the Best and the Rest workplace experiences. Perceptions around fair pay & profit share, fair promotions, and manager bias are significantly low among females in the Rest of the organizations in the study. While the Best 15 organizations must further improve in these areas, they are still maintaining a superior employee perception compared to the Rest.

Figure 4: Biggest gaps between best vs the rest

 

Great Place to Work® analysts pay particular attention to key statements in the survey that are indicators of a healthy organizational culture. Figure 5 depicts the 5 key indices and the fact that women among the 15 Best Workplaces are clearly experiencing an exceptionally positive experience in their workplaces compared to the Rest.

 

Figure 5: Organizational culture – Health indices

 

AREAS OF STRENGTH AND AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT FOR THE BEST 15

The 15 Best WorkplacesTM for Women don’t have it all figured out nor are they perfect. Figure 6 clearly portrays the strengths as well as the areas that can be improved even by these organizations in order of priority given by female respondents.

Figure 6: Areas of strength and areas for improvement among the best 15 workplaces for women

 

Work-life balance remains essential for females. The Covid pandemic over the last couple of years has exacerbated the issue. So, organizations must take remedial steps to address it. Women seek flexibility in their roles that allows them to thrive outside of work. Rather than seeking equilibrium, females are looking to integrate work and life to succeed making it critical for leaders to set the right tone at the top.

KEY DRIVERS AMONG THE BEST 15

The study found the following areas most correlated to women among the 15 Best Workplaces for Women believing their workplaces are great workplace culture and driving their emotional connection to the organization.

Figure 7: Key drivers for women among the best 15

 

NOTABLE PRACTICES FROM THE BEST 15

While pay and monetary benefits are obvious glass ceilings of gender equity, there are other factors and support mechanisms such as parental leave that females may require when climbing the corporate ladder with children in hand. The Great Place to Work® assessment in Sri Lanka included a “S.H.E. R.O.C.K.S.” framework designed to measure these key aspects as well.

Building cultures of inclusivity in organizations is imperative to attract, develop, engage and retain female talent. Listed below are some of the notable practices from some of the Best 15 Workplaces for females:

Businesses across the world are still lagging in addressing challenges that come with including female talent in the workforce. A key contributor to this issue is the low focus on solutions due to the lack of female representation among the decision-makers. Simultaneously, organizations looking to increase representation also face difficulties in finding suitable candidates if grooming practices have not been implemented at lower levels of the organization to encourage females. This can pose both a financial and competitive toll on organisations.

Therefore, it is imperative for businesses to acknowledge the gender leadership gap. In unison with this, leadership diversity needs to be restored to mitigate issues of sexism. Status bias, office politics, work-life dilemmas and unfair promotions need to be addressed if the workplaces are to change their tracks for the better.

The significant lesson to note from the 15 Best Workplaces is that they are committed to the conversation about gender issues, even when it’s hard or uncomfortable. The factor differentiating the Best 15 could be their readiness to listen to their employees about what they require to do their best at work and gradually make changes within the culture. Further, they willingly own their behaviours and evolve their mindsets to create a Great Place to Work For AllTM.

To better understand your organization’s employee perception in general, and women in particular, and to be in the running for the Best Workplaces® Lists of 2023, contact Great Place to Work© at +94 11 454 5594 / 0766301200 or www. greatplacetowork.lk. Diversity and Inclusion Awareness and Training are also offered, along with support in developing policies and practices best suited to your organization.